Cholesterol levels among youth see decline

CHICAGO — In a study involving more than 16,000 U.S. children and adolescents, there has been a decrease in average total cholesterol levels over the past two decades, although almost 1-in-10 subjects had elevated total cholesterol in the 2007-2010 period, according to a study published in the Aug. 8 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"The process of [hardening of the arteries] begins during childhood and is associated with … high concentrations of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (non-HDL-C), and triglycerides, and low concentrations of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C)," according to background information in the article. "For more than 20 years, primary prevention of coronary heart disease has included strategies intended to improve overall serum lipid concentrations among youths."

Researchers found that among youths ages 6 to 19 years between 1988-1994 and 2007-2010, there was a decrease in average total cholesterol from 165 mg/dL to 160 mg/dL. Between 1988-1994 and 2007-2010, there also was a decrease in prevalence among youths ages 6 to 19 years of elevated total cholesterol from 11.3% to 8.1%. In 2007-2010, 22% of youths had either a low HDL-C level or high non-HDL-C, which was lower than the 27.2% in 1988-1994.

"Between 1988-1994 and 2007-2010, a favorable trend in serum lipid concentrations was observed among youths in the United States but adverse lipid profiles continue to be observed among youths," noted Brian Kit of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and lead researcher. "For example, in 2007-2010, slightly more than 20% of children aged 9 to 11 years had either a low HDL-C or high non-HDL-C concentration, which, according to the most recent cardiovascular health guidelines for children and adolescents, indicates a need for additional clinical evaluation."


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